Updating to the latest version
When you use an application all of the time, it’s only natural you want to keep up-to-date and have the latest and greatest version of that app. So when DragonDictate informed me a new version was available, I upgraded straightaway. As often happens with these applications, it is a case of two steps forward and one step back. Some things get better and some things take a step backwards. Sometimes it’s not just a case of things being better or worse, it is just that they are different. DragonDictate is now set up where it expects you to dictate into whichever application you are using and doesn’t give you a text document to work in, as was the case with DragonDictate 4.5. All of the application has moved into a menubar icon which is quite handy in many ways, having it all in one place. On the other hand, when I had menus I could access a working text file that always worked well with DragonDictate. My workflow was to do all of my dictation into that DragonDictate text document and to copy and paste it into whichever other text editor when I was ready to do the editing. Part of the reason for doing this was that the application would work okay for a while in other applications before giving me a few niggling little problems. DragonDictate would add a random letter to the end of my dictation text which would keep coming back even after I had deleted it. It would also lose its place in the text and not know where all of the words dictated were. This became a problem if I wanted to go back and do verbal editing of the dictation so far. Now I have to find out which of my text based applications are going to be best for using with DragonDictate. I have tried out NVAlt and I have also tried using Byword and I wasn’t particularly happy with either of those for dictation. I am dictating this into Scrivener and after 345 words everything is working fine, so I will be keeping my fingers crossed. If this works out, I will be quite pleased to use Scrivener as my go to document for dictation for all of my writing.
What are the improvements?
I’m already finding that the word recognition of the speech engine for DragonDictate, Dragon for Mac 5 is both more accurate and faster. This is the main thing that we use Dragon Dictate for and therefore is something to be happy about. The little window that is the status window has more information and is redesigned to suit the latest version of OS X. The new status window is prettier and more configurable. In the previous version there was a separate window to show you what you had just converted into text from your voice and now you see all in the one window. There are little icons you can use to show or hide guidance. You might use this to begin with when you’re getting used to use the application. This is where you get the hints of what you can do with Dragon for Mac 5. It says “What can I say?” Followed by some suggestions with how to capitalise words, delete words, select words and how to pause the microphone. I think the command for pausing the microphone is a new one and it’s handy to have the microphone still listening so you can use the command to wake it up again with your voice. What I used to do previously, was to voice switch the microphone off, but then I would have to use a non-voice command, such as a Better Touch Tool gesture I have programmed for the Magic Trackpad. That worked very well, but it is quite nice to just tell the microphone to wake up.
What are the niggling little problems?
After about half an hour of using the application, it crashed. Crashes happen from time to time with software, but it would have been nice if it could have lasted longer than 30 minutes. The application automatically created an email containing the crash details to send off to Nuance. I added some notes to the top of the email to let them know about the other problems I’d been having with the new version of DragonDictate.
When you are dictating into DragonDictate it shows you a selection of options for the words you have just said. So this is where you can say choose or edit plus a number. You say the word ‘choose’ plus the number for the selection you want to change to. You say ‘edit’ plus the number and you can alter and then use whatever you have just edited. In this new version of Dragon for Mac 5 sometimes the choices pop up for a second, or even just a split second before disappearing. This is something that will have to be fixed, and the sooner the better! Sometimes this information works properly and sometimes it doesn’t. It was working for the first half of me using DragonDictate to create this article, but now it is broken.
I’m now 837 words into this document and the problem I had before in the previous version with an extra letter being added to the end has just happened again. I would have hoped this was fixed in this new version. It is a problem having this extra letter unnecessarily tacked upon the end because when I give the command to go to the end of the text, the cursor goes after the letter. This then causes problems with anything dictated after that. Only happens in Non Dragon apps, in the Dragon text document it always behaved itself.
One of the new features of Dragon for Mac is the companion app which will be available to use on iOS as well as other platforms. We will be able to synchronise our wordlists, auto texts and Dragon commands from one device to another. If you add specialised words to your user dictionary they will also be available on your other devices. The application Dragon Anywhere is not available yet, but should be available soon. I expect I will do a review of Dragon Anywhere as used on iOS as soon as it becomes available.
Paying to be a beta tester for Nuance
The application Dragon for Mac is not a cheap application, but is well worth the money if you do a lot of writing. I certainly have had my money’s worth from the application over the three or four years I’ve been using it. I have updated from the original version I bought, a couple of times. Generally the application gets better with each update and you don’t mind paying for good software that does a good job. The lesson to be learned with this latest version of Dragon for Mac 5, and also with previous upgrades, is that it can be better to wait for a month or two and let somebody else do the paid beta testing.
Despite my complaining about the niggling things that are not working or things that have changed in this new version, I’m still happy to see the new DragonDictate.
The information mode in the Dragon for Mac window is once again working even though I haven’t touched any of the controls since it stopped working a few minutes ago. I’ll have to just be vigilant and use a few workarounds until there is an update to fix the problems. I’ve just tried using the choose command to select one of the options from the information window and it didn’t work.